The HELP Appeal, the only charity in the country dedicated to funding hospital helipads, has announced the appointment of Mr Rob Bentley, Clinical Director South East London Kent and Medway Major Trauma Network and cranio-oral and maxillofacial surgeon at King’s College Hospital, as a new Vice President.

The announcement was made as the charity’s Chief Executive Robert Bertram presented the penultimate instalment of £250,000 (pictured) out of a total of £2.75 million pledged to the hospital, to help cover the construction costs and building of the King’s College Hospital’s helipad.

The HELP Appeal was first approached by Rob Bentley for financial support in 2012 to help build the rooftop helipad at King’s College Hospital, which opened in October 2016 and has since had 475 patient landings. The HELP Appeal also funded the installation of the first ever Deck Integrated Fire Fighting System (DIFFS) on a hospital helipad and on the mainland at King’s College Hospital. Typically used in offshore oil rigs, DIFFS’ cutting-edge technology extinguishes fires quickly and effectively, protecting the helipad and hospital, ensuring the safety of those on deck and avoiding the need for a hospital evacuation.

Rob Bentley explained that before the helipad was built, air ambulances landed in a nearby park and then patients had a 25-minute ambulance journey by road to King’s College Hospital.

He said:

“Since the helipad opened, patients can fly from Margate to King’s in a total of 25 minutes. The HELP Appeal has played a huge part in helping King’s save lives.”

As the new HELP Appeal Vice President, Rob said he is committed to raising awareness about the importance of hospital helipads and DIFFS:

“The King’s helipad has transformed patients’ access to trauma care.”

Robert Bertram, Chief Executive of the HELP Appeal said:

“I’m delighted that Rob Bentley accepted our invitation to become Vice President of the HELP Appeal. He has always been a huge advocate of the charity within the NHS and will undoubtedly continue to raise awareness about the HELP Appeal and encourage hospitals that urgently need our help to get in touch.”

King’s College Hospital received planning permission for helipad lighting enabling night flights in February 2019, which allows air ambulances to land around the clock ensuring that more critically ill patients can be treated immediately, and more lives are saved.